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Community & Business Groups

W3C Credentials Community Group Charter (2020)

This charter was ratified by group consensus on May 12, 2020. The previous revision of the Credentials Community Group Charter is also available for archival and auditing purposes.

The mission of the W3C Credentials Community Group is to explore the creation, storage, presentation, verification, and user control of credentials. We focus on a verifiable credential (a set of claims) created by an issuer about a subject—a person, group, or thing—and seek solutions inclusive of approaches such as: self-sovereign identity; presentation of proofs by the bearer; data minimization; and centralized, federated, and decentralized registry and identity systems. Our tasks include drafting and incubating Internet specifications for further standardization and prototyping and testing reference implementations.

Scope of Work

In general, the topics that are “in scope” include anything related to enabling interoperable credentials on the Web. These topics include:

  • Storage formats for digital credentials.
  • Protocols for the storage and transmission of digital credentials.
  • Low-stakes (community-based education, badges, gamification of social events) and high-stakes (P-12, high school or high school equivalent, university degrees, licenses, government-issued IDs, security documents) credentials.
  • Identity as it relates to an entity that claims ownership over a set of digital credentials. The credentials must be capable of identifying an entity and proving that the entity is capable, authorized, or qualified to perform a particular task or operation.
  • Identity and privacy technologies as they relate to ensuring the proper identification and protection of parties engaging in the exchange of credentials.
  • Security as it relates to ensuring the proper end-to-end protection and authenticity of the exchange of credentials as well as the use of these credentials to login, or get authorization to access, a particular website.
  • Base technologies (digital signatures, secure messaging, etc.) that are vital for the proper operation of the solutions deemed in-scope for the Credentials CG. If the technology is not being incubated elsewhere, it may be incubated in the Credentials CG.
  • Legal, regulatory, and policy concerns that affect the successful deployment of any of the use cases or technology concepts.

In general, the topics that are “out of scope” involve anything not directly related to enabling interoperable credentials on the Web. Some examples of these topics are:

  • The relative merits of various economic, political, or sociological theories. (i.e. The focus of this Community Group is on Web-based credentialing methods under any economic, political or sociological scenario.)
  • Marketing or evangelizing of technologies not intended to be released under a license compatible with W3C specifications. Discussion of out-of-scope solutions should be limited to elaborating upon technological advantages/disadvantages.

Work Items

In general, all documents related to credentialing are welcome. If there are individuals who will commit to being editors for a document, the group should agree to accept it as a work item even if it conflicts with previous work adopted by the community. Newly-accepted work items that extend beyond the scope of this Community Group Charter will lead to a reconsideration of the Charter. The Community Group may vote to revise the Charter in order to include new work, or to determine that the proposed work is unrelated to credentialing.

The CCG work item process is outlined here.

The Credentials Community Group current work items are available at this location.

Dependencies or Liaisons

The group will make good faith efforts to include the following communities in the progress of our work.

Community Group Process

Anything in this charter that conflicts with requirements of the Community and Business Group Process is void.

Choosing a Chair

  • A Chair’s duties include:
    • Driving inclusivity, identifying consensus within the group, and recording decisions.
    • Ensuring compliance with all W3C rules applicable to the group.
    • Being a liaison between the group and all groups with which the group is coordinating.
    • Organizing the smooth operation of the group.
    • Engaging with media, performing outreach, and ensuring the transparent operation of the group.
    • The Chair’s are accountable to both the W3C and to Community Group members to ensure that all deliberation and decision processes are fair, respectful, aligned with these guidelines, and neither favouring or discriminating against any participant or their associates (incl. employer).
  • At any given time there may be up to three co-chairs, each holding one of three seats. Each seat defines a three-year cycle of service. That is, chairs are elected to hold a given seat with a nominal term of three years.
  • Seat A’s initial term will be from 2020-2021
  • Seat B’s initial term will be from 2020-2022
  • Seat C’s initial term will be from 2020-2023
  • In the first election after ratification of this charter, all seats will be up for election. Thereafter, in each year, a single election will be held to fill any vacant seats.
  • In the case of interim vacancy, the remaining chairs may appoint a co-chair for each open seat, hold an election for the same, or wait until the next election, at their discretion. If the chairs do not take any action, the seat will automatically be up for election in any cycle. Any such interim appointments or elections shall hold the seat until the end of its natural cycle.
  • There may be up to three Chairs at any given time. There are no limits to how often chairs can be re-elected by the group.
  • In an election year, current chairs will select a date for elections, which will set a nomination period of two weeks, starting 4 weeks prior to the election.
  • For an individual to run for election, they must nominate themself and make a statement regarding their background and why they are running, on the group mailing list.
  • The current chairs will host a conference call during the nomination period, during which candidates may make a statement and answer questions from the community.
  • If at the end of nominations, any given seat only has a single candidate, that candidate immediately wins that seat. For any seats with multiple nominees, there will be an election for those seats.
  • If after nominations, any given seat has no candidates, the remaining chairs after any election (if necessary for other seats), will address the vacancy as an interim vacancy, described above.
  • To elect one of multiple candidates, current chairs will select an appropriate election mechanism after nominations have closed. If the current chairs, for any reason, fail to choose an election mechanism within one week of the close of nominations, a vote for contested seats will be held at the next regular conference call via public ballots and the nominee who receives the most votes for a seat shall win the respective seat; if the vote results in a tie, an immediate runoff of the top two candidates shall be held. If the vote remains tied, the winner shall be the candidate whose nomination was first recorded publicly on the group email list.
  • The chairs may choose any other election mechanism that offers a good faith equal opportunity for members of the community group to select among candidates, as long as that mechanism is started by the previously announced election date and completed no more than one week later.

Removing a chair

  • Chairs may be removed from their duties through a no-confidence vote.
  • If a member of the community group wishes to call for the recall of a chair–for any reason–that member must first privately communicate with the other chairs their desire and reason for doing so. Those chairs must give the member an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a goal of resolving them. If, after 30 days, the member feels their issues are not addressed, they may then escalate to a public call for a no confidence vote. If after 60 days, the member has not made that call for a no confidence vote, the matter is dropped; any further attempts to remove the chair in question must begin with a new round of private communication.
  • A public call for no confidence must be announced to the group email list stating the name of the chair subject to the recall and the names and emails of at least 3 members of the group who thereby call for a recall. This announcement must come from the member who initiated the private communication with the chairs to discuss their concerns. The other two supporting members MUST reply to that email on the public list within 48 hours to confirm their support for a no-confidence vote of the chair in question.
  • The other chairs must acknowledge the call for no confidence within 7 days of all three members declaring their support.
  • Within 30 days of a call for no confidence, the other chairs must hold a conference call at which the parties seeking no confidence will have an opportunity to present their case and members of the group will be able to ask clarifying questions. The chair in question shall not moderate this call. They will, however, have equal time to respond during that same call to the case made against them.
  • During the week following this conference call, members may cast votes in favor or against the recall by posting to the email list. If yea votes cast that week (in favor of recall) comprise greater than two-thirds of the total votes cast, then the chair in question is removed and the seat shall be treated as an interim vacancy.
  • Members are not required to vote. Abstentions may be recorded; such abstentions shall not count towards the total number of votes when calculating the two-thirds majority.
  • A Chair who has been removed may stand for re-election.
  • Only one call for no-confidence, for one chair, may be in process at any given time. Priority shall be given to the first such vote to be publicly called. Any subsequent public calls must wait until any previous recalls are resolved, then must start with private communication as described above.

Transparency

Amendments to this Charter

  • Chairs may propose amendments to the charter by asking for a call for principled objections to the new charter. If, after a period of two weeks, no principled objections have been presented by a current member of the group, the new charter is approved.
  • If a principled objection is posted to the mailing list or expressed in a regular call, then the chairs may either drop the amendment or proceed with a public vote.
  • A public vote for a new charter must be called by the chairs within two weeks of the principled objection.
  • Such vote will be open for two weeks, with ballots cast via the groups public mailing list. Each member of the group may cast one ballot, “yea” or “nay”. A new charter must receive 2/3 of the votes cast “yea” in the approval vote to pass.
  • The group will use the amendment process for any substantive changes to the goals, scope, deliverables, decision process or rules for amending the charter.
  • Changes to the Dependencies and Liaisons list does not constitute an amendment to the charter that requires a rechartering vote.
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